We hear it at the beginning and end of every season: “everyone at work is sick!” and we always cringe as we say it, hoping that by some miracle, we won’t be stricken with this years’ bug. Fortunately, there is more than just hope to get us through these dark, Kleenex-filled times. Taking the steps to ensure your employees are healthy can be as simple as emphasizing the importance of hand care in your facility. In fact, hand care and proper hygiene is the single most important way to prevent yourself from getting sick and from spreading germs to others.
Reminding your employees to practice proper hand hygiene is extremely important as it will ultimately save your business unnecessary costs. Food Safety estimates that the cost of lost productivity in the workplace from the flu alone is $15 billion. In addition, studies have shown the effectiveness of reminding employees to wash their hands frequently. In businesses that post hand washing reminders, 72% of employees wash their hands five or more times a day and
38% wash their hands more than 10 times a day. This has a drastic effect on workplace wellness and employee productivity which will contribute to an overall healthier work environment.
FOAMING HAND SOAP
What can you do to optimize on the benefits of hand care within your facility? There are several cost-effective options that have been proven to cause significant increase awareness to hygiene. The use of foam dispensers, for example, dilutes the soap so that a specified quantity is required and the foam is fast acting. It will also contribute to reducing water waste by 50% because it is easier to rinse. Using an environmentally friendly foam soap is optimal as it avoids the use of harmful allergens found in chemicals used in conventional soaps while offering the same, if not an increased effect. Therefore, the use of foam soap is one of the best and easiest ways to ensure that when employees wash their hands, they are avoiding waste of water and excess soap as well as reaching all areas of the hand through the smooth foam application. It is important to consider that wet hands are the culprit for germs to spread. Taking the time to dry your hands thoroughly is an important and often overlooked component of a healthy hand care routine.
When choosing a soap dispenser, it’s important to consider what kind of soap dispenser will present you with the most benefits and therefore have the most effect. For example, a captive system will only work using sealed packages of soap that are specifically designed for that dispenser. This presents a way to limit cross-contamination. Alternatively, a bulk fill system means that the soap has direct contact with the plastic and therefore involves the risk of microorganism growth including mould. The captive system is easy to use as the soap packages are easy to replace and they eliminate the mess that can be caused by bulk filled dispensers. Considering a hands free model will further improve hand hygiene as it eliminates the potential of cross contamination.
HAND CARE TIPS
Though it is widely known and accepted that hands should be washed after using the washroom and before meals, hands should also be washed after scanning newspapers or magazines, after using someone else’s keyboard or tools, before and after a meet and greet activity, and when using shared office equipment such as faxes, phones, and photocopiers.
Using signage such as wall charts in washrooms is a great way to continue to educate, train, and inform employees on how they can keep themselves and their work environment as healthy and possible. Highlighting frequently missed areas will also help encourage workers to pay closer attention to their hand washing process and therefore increase their awareness regarding the importance of frequent and proper hand care.
Hand sanitizer stations are a great alternative to have around the office for when workers cannot get to the washroom to wash hands. Though using soap and water is the most effective method of hand care, using an alcohol based, fragrance free, foaming or gel hand sanitizer can offer several advantages such as reducing the spread of germs to various surfaces. Including hand sanitizer wall charts with dispensers in various locations in the office will help keep workers informed on the proper steps to decrease bacteria and germs on the skin.
Making hand care an essential component of your business can contribute to a healthier environment and increased productivity. Further, training and providing wall charts in washrooms and at sanitizing stations will create greater hand care awareness that empowers individuals to take the steps towards optimizing their health and hygiene practices.